In today’s fast moving world, communication is becoming more and more crucial and people seem to be careless to listen to one another. Effective listening seems to be rare although it helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, improve accuracy and save money and marriages. At work, genuine listening reduces errors and saves time. At home, it helps develop creative, autonomous kids who can solve their own problems.
Below are some tips to help you develop effective listening skills.
Step 1: Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.
Eye contact is the basis of effective communication. When we talk, we look each other in the eye. Remove all things you have in hands when you have a conversation with your partners and look at them, even if they do not look at you. Sometimes, shyness, uncertainty, shame, guilt, or other emotions, can inhibit eye contact in some people under some circumstances but stay focused yourself.
Step 2: Be attentive, but relaxed.
Relax after you have made eye contact. You have to be attentive. To “attend” another person means to:
- be present
- give attention
- apply or direct yourself
- pay attention
- remain ready to serve
Put aside any distraction, like background activity and noise and try not to focus on the speaker’s way of speaking to the point where it becomes a distraction. Lastly, do not be distracted by your own thoughts or feelings.
Step 3: Keep an open mind.
Do not judge or mentally criticize the other person you are listening to, because this may compromise your effectiveness as a listener. Avoid jumping to conclusions while listening. Put in mind that the speaker is using language to express his thoughts and feelings that you can only know by listening. In addition, avoid being a sentence-grabber.
Step 4: Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.
Try to imagine the information being communicated. Just think about what the other person is telling and focus on what is being said, even if it tires you. Refocus in case you feel you are being distracted.
Step 5: Do not interrupt and do not impose your “solutions.”
Interrupting could say several messages. For instance:
- “I’m more important than you are.”
- “What I have to say is more interesting, accurate or relevant.”
- “I don’t really care what you think.”
- “I don’t have time for your opinion.”
- “This isn’t a conversation, it’s a contest, and I’m going to win.”
When you are listening to someone talking about a problem, avoid suggesting solutions because most people prefer to find out their own solutions and what they really want is being listened to.
In addition, if there is anything you do not understand, do not interrupt the speaker but rather wait until he pauses to ask him to explain.
Step 6: Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
Feeling the same emotions as the speaker does, will prove your effectiveness as a listener. Express your sadness when the person with whom you are talking feels sad, joyful when she feels joy and fearful when she describes her fears. Put yourself in the other’s person’s place and feel what it is like to be her at that moment. This helps a lot the communication.
Step 7: Give the speaker regular feedback.
Giving the speaker evidence that you are listening and following her train of thought, will give her assurance and comfort and will prove that you are truly listening and all ears.